The Pueblo West softball team had to beat a tough Falcon team twice at the regional tournament to qualify for the 16-team state championships.
The Cyclones ace Ashley Thomas got the ball in the first game.
Thomas was her usual stingy self, throwing a complete game and leading her team to a 7-3 win.
In game two the Cyclones fell 4-1 to perennial power Ponderosa.
Pueblo West’s veteran head coach Rick Montez said that his team stayed with Ponderosa the whole way.
“We battled heavy winds all day,” Montez recalled.
“Unfortunately, Ponderosa’s hitters managed to get a couple balls in the air, and our outfielders just couldn’t track them down with the crazy wind conditions.”
The Cyclones Mariah Algien gave up just six hits and pitched a complete game against Ponderosa.
“Mariah pitched a very solid game against Ponderosa,” Montez said. “She and our entire team really battled against an outstanding team. The Ponderosa coach even came to me after the game and complimented our girls for playing so well.”
But the Cyclones day was far from over.
Since Falcon had managed to come back and beat Widefield in their second game, they were entitled to another shot at the Cyclones for the right to go to the state tournament.
Game three turned out to be a barn burner.
Ashely Thomas took the ball again, and pitched six strong innings.
With the game tied at 5, and after pitching 13 innings, Thomas ran into some trouble in the top of the seventh (and final) inning.
Falcon took the lead on a solo home run, and put two on base with no outs.
Montez then decided to go get Algien to try to keep the game close.
Algien and her defense was up to the challenge.
A nice unassisted put out, and the pitcher’s best friend (double play) got the Cyclones out of the inning with no further damage.
Trailing 6-5 going to their final at bat, the Cyclones believed.
Reaching deep, they came to the plate with confidence and a plan.
Shyanne Deville led off with a screaming double that landed just millimeters inside the third base line.
Haley Ruiz worked out a walk, and Sophia Cordova laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with two outs. That set the stage for Shannon Sanchez to be the hero.
Sanchez hit a rocket off the third baseman’s ankle that rolled toward the shortstop.
Running all out at the crack of the bat, both of the Cyclones runners scored, and the celebration was on.
The Cyclones will be the No. 12 seed in the 4A state championships which will be played at the Aurora Sports Park.
Wheatridge earned the top seed, followed by Ponderosa, the defending state champions, Pueblo East, and Discovery Canon.
West will face No. 5 Broomfield in the first round at 10 a.m. Friday.
Tournament brackets, game times and directions can be found at www.chsaanow.org.
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